High Court Hears Case on Concealed Weapons

Members and leadership representing Ohioans For Concealed Carry were in attendance at the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 15th, to attend oral arguments in the more than two-year-old "Hamilton County Concealed Carry" lawsuits.

Canton Repository - the Repository offers on of the best objective summaries of the testimony offered at the hearing by both sides, and the key issues about which the Justices had questions.

Dayton Daily News - the Daily News offers a surprisingly objective summary. We note with interest that while neither the State Solicitor who argued the state's case, nor OFCC President Jeff Garvas, were willing to "read the tea leaves" in an attempt to predict something from oral questioning. Toby Hoover of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, however, is not wise in witholding comment.

Columbus Dispatch (subscription site - paid access only) - the Dispatch, like the Daily News, offers a surprisingly objective summary. This article does perhaps the best job of all in viewing this issue from a multitude of angles, legislative, legal, and political. Once again, Toby Hoover of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence seems unaware that sometimes, silence is golden.

Ohio News Network - ONN has been good to widen the discussion of this case to include the legislative efforts currently under way, and points out OFCC's main Constitutional concerns, which have yet to be addressed in HB12. They are also offering an online poll on this issue.

Cincinnati Enquirer - despite characterizing Justice's questioning as "attacks", this article contains two of the better quotes from Attorney William Gustavson, as well as still more quotes from the Justices.

Cleveland Plain Dealer - despite a one-sided headline, the Plain Dealer article does a good job of representing both sides, and captures a few of the lighter moments not discussed elsewhere, noting that the Justices appeared to enjoy sparring with Gustavson.

WTOL Channel 11 (Toledo) - this CBS affiliate manages only one brief sentence explaining the defense's point of view, and presents every bit of gloom and doom about HB12 that they can muster.

Toledo Blade - the Blade writes almost as if the ruling was already handed down, only offering quotes from Justices which sound ominous or threatening to the constitutionality question.

Lancaster Eagle-Gazette - many central Ohio Gannett-owned newspapers will be printing this article, which might as well declare defeat for the four Cincinnati-area gun owners who brought the lawsuit.

Other regional coverage:
Alliance Review
Central Ohio Daily Reporter (Columbus)
WXIX Fox Channel 19 (Cincinnati)
WEWS News Channel 5 (Cleveland/Akron)

OFCC PAC Commentary

Rather than detailing again the points the news articles highlighted, we'd like to share some of the observations the media did not make:

1) State Solicitor Douglas Cole and Attorney Richard Ganulin, representing the city of Cincinnati, revealed a fundamental disagreement on the right to bear arms. Cole opened his case by stating that the state concurs with the Ohio Constitution - persons have the right to bear arms for their defense and security (his arguments on how he believes the state can limit that right are detailed in the various news articles linked to above). But Ganulin argued that there is no individual right to bear arms provided by the Constitution, and that it is merely a collective right. We found it extraordinary that the plaintiffs in this appeal do not even agree on such a fundamental issue.

2) Perhaps the most striking moment of the hearing, and coming very near to the end of oral arguments. Justice Paul Pfeifer was able to get the State Solicitor to admit under questioning that, regardless of the debate about whether the current law truly creates a defacto ban on carrying firearms for self-defense, this much is clear: there most certainly is a ban on carrying a firearm for self-defense in a motor vehicle. After the State Solicitor repeatedly stated in his closing comments that the Constitutional right to self-defense is being observed via Ohio's "open carry" law, Justice Pfeifer asked how one can carry openly in a car. Cole's response: "You can't."

3) Justices allowed William Gustavson, the attorney arguing the law is unconstitutional, nearly three times the time to make his arguments, and the majority of their questions were posed to him. In post-hearing comments, State Solicitor David Cole warned against engaging in "too much reading of the tea leaves based on oral arguments", and OFCC President Jeff Garvas pointed out that this questioning simply indicates the Justices are keeping an open mind.

4) State Solicitor David Cole's main argument was that the Ohio Constitution is not being violated, because every Ohioan has the choice to carry a firearm in the open. But tell that to the 300,000+ residents of Toledo. Or the 200,000+ Akron residents. Their right to open carry has been banned by those municipalities.

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